Hertford students have been shocked and saddened this week by the resignation of popular Head Porter Steve Jamieson, following managerial disputes and clashes over internal College politics.
Exact details of Jamieson’s departure have been clouded by the reluctance of both the College and the JCR to speak out, leaving the majority of Hertford students still unclear over the exact reasons for his resignation.
A Facebook group set up in protest has gained over 300 members under the title, ‘Hertford College in support of Steve Jamieson’.
On the group wall, ex-JCR President Thomas Lowe suggested Jamieson’s resignation had been strongly provoked by College actions.
Lowe wrote, “Steve’s role as Head Porter had been expanded over the past few years because the College needed someone to be fire marshall etc.
Then the College appointed a Home Bursar. Steve (and the Lodge) and the Home Bursar came into conflict over who was in control of what. This was exacerbated by Steve being better qualified than the Home Bursar and having more experience of the College.
“The bureaucratic turf war came to a head when the College began an ‘efficiency drive’ and focused on the Lodge. Steve asked for mediation and for a public apology from the College over what he felt was bullying of Lodge staff. The College refused and he felt his position was untenable. He therefore handed in his resignation.”
At the bottom of the comment, Lowe added: “*Disclaimer: This is my interpretation of events. Any references to real individuals/events is entirely incidental.”
Current JCR President Jon Colclough wrote, “All I can say is that Steve has told me he would prefer to stay, we would prefer him to stay, but he is leaving. I would say that is reason enough to express dissatisfaction.”
However, Colclough advised that tact was required, saying “Steve’s clearly been a great asset to the College, and a real help to all of the students here. He’s always done his best to help anyone in the JCR and it’s really sad to see him go.
“However, today I received a letter from the Principal expressing his sadness and that of the SCR that Steve was leaving (which, in fairness, was a nice touch from the Principal).
“Any further letters/protests/hunger strikes aren’t going to suddenly transform the situation. Steve hasn’t been sacked, he has resigned, so any further action on our part isn’t going to change anything (and I’m not entirely sure what else College could do anyway, other than bunging him a few million quid). Internal staffing politics isn’t necessarily black and white.
“The College has heard our opinion and understands how much the JCR appreciates Steve. The best thing to do now rather than getting overly militant is to sign Steve’s leaving card when it is passed around next week and meet him at the Lodge when he leaves on Friday.”
Jamieson himself, who was previously a scout at Hertford and played 1st XI football for the College, was unwilling to comment on the details of his departure. He declared how deeply sad he was to be leaving Hertford, saying, “It’s just a shame. I’ve loved the last three and a half years here, I thought I’d stay here all my life.”
“I have always had the interests and the welfare of the students at heart. It’s just a shame that certain members of the College don’t share my views.”
“It’s all about the students – these guys are fantastic, they are like family.”
Jamieson is an exceptionally popular figure around Hertford, and this has been reflected by the overwhelming weight of student tributes towards him. Alex Woolgar, creator of the Facebook group, called him “one of Hertford College’s greatest assets, and a credit to the College. His professionalism is exemplary, and he’s a fantastic guy too.
“It is absurd that Hertford is letting him go, considering his outstanding service to the College and its members.”
Tim Boothman, JCR Treasurer at Hertford, added that Steve “will be sorely missed by all at College, including the vast majority of the JCR, MCR and SCR, as well as the other staff.”
“He was an extremely professional, competent and friendly person who kept College functioning as it should, the first port of call for anyone with a query.”
Another undergraduate, Qu Hsueh Ming, called Jamieson “an absolute hero”, adding that he was “frankly disgusted that Hertford are treating him so poorly. No doubt he’ll boss whatever he’s doing next, but Hertford won’t be the same without his dry wit.”
Finalist Rohan Kandasamy echoed his sentiments, saying “Steve was the first person in Hertford I met when I visited the College for the first time. It was partly because of him that I applied here. He can’t leave! He’s too friendly!”
Elsewhere in the group, affectionate tributes have been made to Jamieson’s attributes. According to Lowe, “There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Steve Jamieson has allowed to live.” Woolgar added, “when Steve Jamieson goes swimming, he doesn’t get wet. The water gets Steve Jamiesoned.”
Hertford College declined to comment on Jamieson’s departure.